Noem's campaign accuses Republican challenger of misogyny for delaying anti-transgender sports bill

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Governor Kristi Noem looks at Speaker of the House Steven Haugaard after thanking him for a comment following her State of the State address on Tuesday, Jan. 14, in the House Chamber at the State Capitol in Pierre.
Governor Kristi Noem looks at Speaker of the House Steven Haugaard after thanking him for a comment following her State of the State address on Tuesday, Jan. 14, in the House Chamber at the State Capitol in Pierre.

Gov. Kristi Noem's campaign team is accusing her challenger in the 2022 GOP primary of being misogynistic after a vote on a bill barring transgender girls and women from participating in female athletics was delayed Thursday.

Following a procedural move made by Rep. Steve Haugaard on the state House floor earlier in the day that pushed the vote on Senate Bill 46 back until next week, Kristi for Governor Campaign Manager Joe Desilets issued a statement condemning the Sioux Falls Republican for what he said is the latest example of the gubernatorial candidate's "anti-women agenda."

"Needlessly delaying and endangering the passage of the nation’s strongest bill to protect female sports is just the latest in Haugaard’s clear pattern of having a problem with women and his anti-women agenda," Desilets said in a statement sent to the Argus Leader on Thursday evening. "There is no mistaking it: Steve Haugaard is the reason there is not a bill protecting female sports in South Dakota heading to the governor to be signed into law right now."

More: Rep. Steve Haugaard goes after Kristi Noem as he launches primary challenge for South Dakota governor

While Haugaard and House conservatives overwhelmingly support a ban on trans girls and trans women from competing against girls and women in athletics, animosity over Noem's veto of a bill last year that would do just that has carried over into this year's Legislative session.

And that's in part why Haugaard found support Thursday during the floor hearing when he invoked what's known as "Rule 517" to force a delay of at least one legislative day before a vote could take place.

Haugaard said he made the move not because he doesn't support the spirit of the bill, but because legislators are entitled additional time to review an amendment to the bill that was proposed on the House floor Thursday.

More: Noem's chief of staff says participation in sports by transgender athletes 'sort of like terrorism'

He also rebuked the accusation he's "anti-women," and said Desilets' claims are factually inaccurate.

"The only thing she got correct in her campaign statement is that I was Speaker of the House. Everything else is false," Haugaard told the Argus Leader. "I don't want to get into the weeds on that."

The Noem campaign specifically noted allegations levied against Haugaard during his time as House Speaker, including an instance when he attempted to restrict access to the House floor by a lobbyist who'd publicly disparaged House conservatives. Desilets statement also brought attention to media reports in 2019 that alleged Haugaard attempted to impose a dress code for female legislators.

Haugaard, however, vehemently denies the latter ever happened.

"Those statements are as bogus as the statements she just released from her campaign," Haugaard said.

This article originally appeared on Sioux Falls Argus Leader: Noem's challenger accused of misogyny for delaying trans sports bill

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